Tillich Soteriology

Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, by Paul Tillich, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1957. $4.50.

This is decidedly the most readable book that Paul Tillich has yet published, due partly to the subject matter—the fall, sin, Christ and salvation—and partly to the fact that Tillich has found helpers who thoroughly understand and appreciate his views and who have ironed out his attempts to express himself in English. Tillich came to America at the age of 47 in 1933 and in spite of twenty-five years here does not have the same mastery of English as he does of his native language.

In his explanation of the fall Tillich speaks of man as first existing as essential being in the mind of God in a state of “dreaming innocence.” He denies that there ever was any state of conscious innocence or any golden age. As man exerted himself to come into existence he sinned—expressed unbelief, exerted pride and concupiscence—became estranged or separated from God and fell. In this fall he changed from the condition of essential being to that of existential being.

Tillich claims that man-kind is responsible for the fall even though it occurred before man came into consciousness. He draws an analogy from childhood to support his point and says, “the child upon growing into maturity affirms the state of estrangement in acts of freedom which imply responsibility and guilt” (p. 44). Such an explanation however, clearly fails to answer Rheinhold Niebuhr’s implication in The Theology of Paul Tillich that responsibility cannot be predicated of a fall which did not happen in history, nor his charge that this makes sin an ontological necessity in contrast to the Biblical view which makes it an historically responsible act (pp. 219, 222). ...

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